“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, August 18, 2014

On Sunday, more than 235,000 people were still crammed into 81 of the United Nations’ 156 schools - Israel killed more than 1,900 Gaza residents - 11,000 homes destroyed and many more severely damaged by Israel

In Torn Gaza, if Roof Stands, It’s Now Home 



GAZA CITY — Telltale signs of the displaced are everywhere in Gaza.

Tiny sandals are scattered on the doormat of a lawyer’s office above downtown Gaza City’s main street: The tiny feet belong to the children who have been living inside since July 20. Upstairs, in the dental laboratory where Mohamed Efranji fashions crowns and veneers, there are trays of onions, potatoes, red peppers and tomatoes to feed three families who now call it home.

At the Rimal Salon at the edge of the Beach refugee camp, two hairdressers have brought their 10 younger siblings to stay. On Tuesday, their mother was making macaroni on a camp stove in a mirrored back room where brides usually primp. Around the corner, a colorful blanket blocked a doorway to a long-closed Internet cafe where 13 more people have set up house in two high-ceiling rooms that lack both running water and working electric outlets.

On Sunday, more than 235,000 people were still crammed into 81 of the United Nations’ 156 schools, where classes are supposed to start next Sunday. “The chances of that,” acknowledged Scott Anderson, deputy director of the agency that runs them, “are zero.”

After a month of fierce fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants that killed more than 1,900 Gaza residents, the extension of a temporary cease-fire through Monday was a great relief. But with an estimated 11,000 homes destroyed and many more severely damaged, Gaza’s housing and humanitarian crises are just beginning, and the uncertainty over the timing and terms for a more durable truce makes recovery planning elusive.

“Our fate at the end will be in the street,” lamented Alia Kamal Elaf, a 35-year-old mother of eight who has been staying at a school since fleeing the Shejaiya neighborhood in east Gaza City at the onset of Israel’s ground incursion on July 17.

The destruction has been far more severe than in previous rounds of Israeli attacks, especially in Shejaiya, the northern border town of Beit Hanoun and the southeastern village of Khuza’a, where little at all is left. Palestinian leaders plan to ask international donors for $6 billion at a conference scheduled for September, but there are many challenges money cannot solve.

The Hamas-run government that ruled Gaza since 2007 resigned in June, but the Palestinian Authority has yet to take control of its ministries. So who will assess damage or coordinate reconstruction?

Israel currently bans the import of construction materials for private projects, citing security concerns. In any case, several of Gaza’s cement-mixing plants and other factories that make doors, windows and floor tiles have been reduced to rubble.

Many aid workers think cash grants would provide the most efficient relief: People could fix homes that are still standing, rent new spaces or offset expenses as they cram in with relatives. But the United States will not give cash directly to people because it is too complicated to determine their possible connections with Hamas, which is deemed a terrorist organization by Washington.

“We’ll get lots of money to rebuild homes we can’t rebuild, but we won’t get the money to help these people help themselves,” said Robert Turner, director of Gaza operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides education, health and other services to the 70 percent of Gaza residents who are classified as refugees. “You cannot do widespread shelter construction unless construction material is free and available in the local market. Which it’s not, and is it ever going to be?”

Turkey, Qatar and other nations have offered to send mobile homes. But Mr. Turner sees this as a wasteful step in the wrong direction. Each unit costs about $15,000, he said; the agency’s standard rental subsidy in Gaza is $150 per month, or $3,600 for two years. A permanent home can be built for $40,000.

“There are three problems,” Mr. Turner said. “People hate them, they’re really expensive, and you set up these ghettos.”

The agency is facing a similar dilemma over its shelters, where some families have now been for 36 days. About 350 children have been born at the shelters; on Wednesday, United Nations employees staged a boisterous wedding for one displaced couple. Still, there are no showers.

Mr. Anderson, Mr. Turner’s deputy at Unrwa, said Thursday that he planned to start having showers installed in the coming days — at least at the 15 schools across the strip where the agency expected to keep shelters open even after the conflict officially came to a close. Already, he is placing a nurse and health educator at each site in the hope of staving off outbreaks of meningitis, lice and scabies. Soon, the agency will replace daily distribution of canned food, which costs $1.60 per person, with cheaper, twice-weekly boxes of pantry supplies.

“We cannot throw people out of the shelters,” Mr. Anderson said. “It’s the gray area of wanting to do the best we can to provide dignified living conditions, but also not wanting to turn the shelters into hotels where people want to stay.”

People at the schools complain of incessant flies and fetid bathrooms. Ms. Elaf, the woman worried about ending up on the street, said she has but one mattress for her eight children, ages 8 to 16. Another woman staying at the same school yanked down her 7-year-old son’s shorts to show an angry red sore on his thigh. The classrooms smell. Hallways are filthy and often wet. Family fights are becoming more frequent.

Conditions are worse on the grounds of Shifa Hospital, where neither food nor water is provided to the makeshift camp that sprawls outside the internal medicine building, next to the X-ray department, between the emergency room, the morgue and the maternity ward. Many of the tents are made from sheets that say “Palestinian Health Ministry” in Arabic.

The brothers Hamouda have an actual tent, provided, they said, by a “do-gooder” in week four of their stay. Half the ground is covered with cardboard, the other half with woven mats. In the corner is an old soda bottle half filled with fiery red pepper sauce, a Shejaiya standard.

“We count the days as we sit in a tent,” said the youngest of the three men, Moamar, 42, on day 35.

“Here,” said the middle brother, Abdullah, 45, “each day equals a year.”

The oldest, Muhammad, 48, said that if the cease-fire held, he would go to the spot where the family’s home was “and wait for a tent — I’ll put a tent in the street and sit there.”

But Moamar disagreed. “We will stay here until they bring a solution for us,” he said. “My opinion is that we stay here, as a pressure tool.”

Their wives have been staying with relatives, as an estimated 200,000 of the temporarily displaced have done. Even this, considered the best alternative, has its downside: Religious women and girls must wear long sleeves and cover their hair at all times because they are not in their own homes; many are not allowed to sit in courtyards or on stoops because they do not know the neighbors.

Those who have managed to find spots to rent said they were paying double the prewar rates: One group of 12 was pulling furniture from the Beit Hanoun rubble the other day to take to a fourth-floor unit in the Sheikh Zayed complex, with no elevator, for $200 a month. Hani Zeyara, who is from Shejaiya and slept for weeks at the makeshift Shifa Hospital camp or in a park, said he had finally found an empty store: 260 square feet for $100 a month.

Adel al-Ghoula, 28, has already pitched a tent, of sorts, in front of the pile of debris that used to be the home where he lived from the age of 13, just across the road that runs close to Gaza’s eastern boundary. He used wire to tie two-by-fours to the iron fence lining the road, and then to tie colorful cloths, many of them torn or singed, to the wood. Inside, wooden pallets are propped on rocks and strewn with worn cushions, forming seats in the shade.

The date, grape, olive, fig, walnut and lemon trees are all gone. A stone arch doorway and wrought-iron gate are basically the only things left standing of what Mr. Ghoula said had been a four-story building housing six families — 50 people — as well as several first-floor businesses. Mr. Ghoula had owned two sewing machines and made women’s shoes.

“This is the remains of my computer,” he said, picking up a piece of black plastic. “This is my daughter’s handbag.” It was red, with sparkles; she is 4.

He put a sign on the pile, “Home of the al-Ghoula Family,” to ward off looters, perhaps attract assessors or just signal to neighbors: We are still here.

“We must rent a place, but we should still come here every day and sit here,” Mr. Ghoula said as a stranger on a donkey cart stopped for a drink of fresh water. “To receive people. To tell the world: We are rooted in our land, until death.”

Fares Akram contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on August 18, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: In Torn Gaza, if Roof Stands, It’s Now Home. Order Reprints|Today’s Paper|Subscribe

Israeli Lies vs Reality:


  1. Inexcusable, planned destruction by morally vaccuous vicious bastards.

  2. b.s.

    Should have edited Dersh out. He won the argument.

  3. I should have edited Dersh out to spare him the embarrassment. He got his ass handed to him.

    1. Naw, your two guys could barely bring themselves to admit Israel has a right to defend itself.

      Whole thing was a farce. With the moderator giving the time to the two parrots.

  4. .

    Aid dollars will be like flushing money down a toilet unless better safeguards are established for the distribution of funds. Skimming and corruption have been the standard in both the West Bank and Gaza for decades.

    A new protocol needs to be established where every dollar is tracked. Even then you won't stop all the skimming and corruption but without it the aid is simply a feel good gesture with no tangible benefits for those that actually need it.

    Unfortunately, the US and other countries would rather filter the money through the PA and lose it all than take a chance Hamas might get their hands on it. Perhaps, the money should pass through NGO's for distribution, although I am not sure if any of them are any better.



    1. Aid money to any of the Palestinians will be wasted unless we begin direct deposit in each individuals' bank account. Even then a lot will be wasted on AK 47s and what not.

      I don't know what to do about it but neither Gaza or the West Bank is a viable political entity.

      They were not when Martha Gellhorn wrote about them 50 years ago, and they are not today, and they won't be......ever.

    2. I think we should give the Aid money to me. I am certain more people would benefit from it.

      Was thinking trying to get Quart involved........but then I thought of Detroit........and Hillary.

      Folks, daddy used to say, some problems ain't got no good solutions, and some got no solutions at all.

  5. Neither Palestine, Gaza, or Israel has any oil, but they have plenty of Crazy.

    I would just as soon "Clan Rufus" stayed out of it..

    1. A noble effort not to add to the number of Crazies.....


  6. CURF-U...
    KAREEM: Coming Race War Won't Be About Race...
    Jesse Jackson Booed After Fundraising from Podium...
    Protester: 'If I Got To Die Tonight, I Don't Mind'...
    POLL: 57% of blacks think cop guilty of murder...
    Obama to meet with Holder......drudge

    Reverend Sharpton is not getting his fair share of the news cycle here......

    Another political circus is about to occur, is already occurring.....

    1. It's interesting that, as of now, only 57% of blacks think the cop guilty of murder.

    2. He shot him 6 times, and twice in the head.

      And, not at close range, either.

    3. AAAha !

      You've already prejudged the incident, and no one knows yet what most likely occurred.

      Neither do you know the range, the medical examiner said he could judge that yet, if ever. He needs to examine the clothing.

      You would totally discard any police testimony, so you have made your judgement on nothing at all.

      A simple call for a lynching by Clan Rufus......

    4. If some white kid was shot, as happened recently - I saw a list of them - by a black officer, we wouldn't hear about it. We didn't hear about it, and there were no riots.


  7. REPORT: DOJ, Communists, New Black Panthers Hijack Ferguson Protests......drudge

    Where is Al Sharpton, dammit, has he gone missing?

  8. Here's a good short report about what we actually know/don't know about the incident so far -

    It's mostly don't know so far.

  9. Breaking, 1096 A.D.

    Pope Endorses Military Force to Destroy Middle Eastern Caliphate.

    1. Breaking, 2014 A.D.

      Pope Endorses Military Force to Destroy Middle Eastern Caliphate

    2. Yeah, we're probably pretty much fucked.

    3. :)

      Well, at least we are not fighting them in Spain, France, Austria.....

  10. Israel disrupts massive Hamas plot to topple West Bank Palestinian Authority
    posted at 2:41 pm on August 18, 2014 by Noah Rothman

    Further cementing the increasingly prevalent impression that the Palestinian Authority is much more responsible than are the Hamas militants in control of Gaza, the terrorist group was implicated on Monday in a plan to mount attacks on Israeli civilians and to orchestrate a coup in the West Bank with the aim of toppling Mahmoud Abbas’s government.

    The plot, planned by a Hamas wing headquartered in Turkey, centered on executing a series of mass casualty terror attacks in Israel and destabilizing the West Bank which would facilitate a military coup, The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday.

    The Hamas infrastructure relied on support from cells in neighboring Jordan, and on couriers who delivered terrorist finances, totaling at least two million shekels, which were used to purchase weapons and homes that were used as hideouts, according to the investigation.

    Ninety three Hamas members are in Israeli custody, and the Shin Bet has questioned 46 so far. Security forces plan to indict some 70 suspects. The investigation began in May, and is ongoing, security sources said.

    The Jewish Press published more details on the scale of the planned terror attacks and the threat to pro-Abbas forces in the West Bank:

    A Hamas leader in Turkey directed the terrorist cells, which received approximately $600,000 from sources in Jordan to buy homes to hide terrorists and to purchase weapons.

    Hamas set up in 46 cities and villages in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem to incite a resurgence of the intifada with terrorist attacks whose targets included the Temple Mount.

    Police, soldiers and security personnel uncovered more than $175,000 during the arrests and found 24 rifles, six revolvers, seven rocket launchers and huge amounts of rifle cartridges and bullets.

    This incident underscores the increasingly apparent reality that the Palestinian territories are now two entirely distinct political entities. The exposure of this plot also highlights why Hamas in Gaza has lost the support of nearly every Arab government.

    The number of ceasefires which Hamas rejected over the course of the month-long conflict with Israel and the brutality of the terror group’s effort to bring about civilian casualties has sapped Hamas of its legitimacy. With the exception of the media and political left in the West, few have credited the terrorist authority in Gaza with behaving like a responsible governmental entity during this crisis.

    Now, with a Hamas plan to topple a moderate Palestinian government uncovered, Israel has the moral authority to contend that Hamas – not the Palestinian people – are the source of tension in the region; a narrative which will undermine the insistence from some in the West that Israel is solely responsible for fostering tensions in the region.

    That is, if any on the left in Europe and the United States care to acknowledge this narrative-crippling development.


    2. Bibi is behind it all......

    3. .

      I doubt he is that intelligent.


    4. .

      It is a funny story though. Strange funny, not ha ha funny. The idea that Arabs would be allowed to buy property in East Jerusalem boggles the imagination.


  11. Streamers -

    August 18, 2014
    Horrifying bird slaughter at solar power plant
    By Thomas Lifson
    A solar power plant partly owned by Google is incinerating one flying bird every 2 minutes, igniting the poor creatures as they fly past the concentrated beams of light from focused mirror arrays. The phony scare over CO2 purportedly causing global warming has motivated investment in this lethal scheme that is damaging the ecosystem around the Bright Source Energy plant at Ivanpah, on the California- Nevada border. Ellen Knickmeyer and John Locher of AP report:

    Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant's concentrated sun rays — "streamers," for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair

    Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one "streamer" every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator's application to build a still-bigger version.

    The investigators want the halt until the full extent of the deaths can be assessed. Estimates per year now range from a low of about a thousand by BrightSource to 28,000 by an expert for the Center for Biological Diversity environmental group.

    This gruesome cremation process was fully predictable, given the deisgn of the plant:

    More than 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, reflect solar rays onto three boiler towers each looming up to 40 stories high. The water inside is heated to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes.

    Sun rays sent up by the field of mirrors are bright enough to dazzle pilots flying in and out of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

    Federal wildlife officials said Ivanpah might act as a "mega-trap" for wildlife, with the bright light of the plant attracting insects, which in turn attract insect-eating birds that fly to their death in the intensely focused light rays.

    Even worse:

    The [California Energy] [C]ommission is now considering the application from Oakland-based BrightSource to build a mirror field and a 75-story power tower that would reach above the sand dunes and creek washes between Joshua Tree National Park and the California-Arizona border.

    The proposed plant is on a flight path for birds between the Colorado River and California's largest lake, the Salton Sea — an area, experts say, is richer in avian life than the Ivanpah plant, with protected golden eagles and peregrine falcons and more than 100 other species of birds recorded there.

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials warned California this month that the power-tower style of solar technology holds "the highest lethality potential" of the many solar projects burgeoning in the deserts of California.

    Bright Source is a heavy hitter:

    investors include, BP Alternative Energy, Morgan Stanley,DBL Investors, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Chevron Technology Ventures, Statoil Venture, and Black River.

    It is time for the real environmentalists to stand up to the scammers who are slaughtering wildlife to solve a nonexistent problem.

    Read more:
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